More U.S. airports to monitor traveler behavior
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will
soon use more behavioral profiling at American airports to detect suspicious activity, a top official said on Thursday.
TSA Director Kip Hawley said the agency would expand a pilot program that has trained officers to observe passengers' behavior currently at about a
dozen airports. He said it will be expanded after the summer travel rush.
"We are looking at expanding ... as another layer of security," Hawley said. "We have been very pleased with its effectiveness. We expect it to be
an important part of our security going forward."
I am a bit discouraged by the TSA's plan to give more power to people who already having a problem handling it. I have watched people at security
checkpoints being treated as so much cattle already. I have also observed people being poorly treated because they were not dressed like execs.
I, myself, was treated like a dog following a week-long horseback trip in the Southwest. My sister and I both saved a pair of jeans and a blouse for
the flight home. We looked like any other pair of casually dressed women, but we were singled out of a crowd of businessmen to have our saddlepacks,
fannypack-size bags that tie to the back of a saddle, swabbed for explosives.
This experience left us very wary of the quality of people hired for these positions. We were spoken down to as if we were hillbillies who didn't
know any better. These individuals also thought it was amusing to humiliate us in front of other passengers by making comments about "being down on
the farm" and "going back to the farm".
We filed a complaint, but it was never resolved. The individuals in charge did not feel our complaint had merit. This is one experience out of
thousands of daily interactions with the public. How many other people are treated this way?
The TSA plans to target people who are "fidgety or nervous". What? You are in an airport. There are a lot of people with psych issues related to
flying. I understand that terrorists may be "fidgety and nervous", but chances are that a lot more honest citizens are going to be the subject of
the TSA's attention.
The biggest problem I have with the TSA targeting this group is the power issue. I have been flying for three decades now. Through those 30 years I
have witnessed countless examples of small-minded people being given too much authority. The screeners my sister and I encountered were two such
I do not dispute that screeners and security should receive more training, but I think it should include a healthy dose of something involving
interaction with strangers. This interpersonal training should emphasize polite behavior and appropriate language, aka diplomacy.
In any case, I expect to hear of an increase in complaints from the general public after this plan is implemented. Since my experience in TUCSON, I
wear a suit every time I fly even if I if I am going on vacation. I have not been treated poorly since then, but I have still seen others treated so.
It has been no surprise to me that they were casually dressed.